Extreme sports and activities are either something you love or something that you vow you will never do. I fall into the category of being an adrenalin junkie, so whenever I see an opportunity to give myself a good adrenalin rush, I take it.
South Africa and more precisely, the Garden Route is home to one of the biggest adrenalin rushes in the world, the Bloukrans Bungy Jump. This is the highest bungy jump in the world…how high is it you ask, 216m high, that’s approximately 70 storeys up on a building….its HIGH. The actual scale of the jump cannot be understood until you stand at the view point from the cliff that looks onto the bridge. When I stood across the valley and looked at the bridge, it was one of the few times in my life that I had some real doubts about whether I would do it or not. I have done some extreme stuff before like rock climbing, scuba diving and even travelling to Antarctica, but nothing prepares you for the sheer craziness of this jump.
The bridge is MASSIVE and the gorge is DEEP. I watched as jumpers plunged head first into the abyss below, they looked tiny in comparison to everything around them and I thought that maybe this was just too crazy.
My wife and I were there with another couple, Christa and Kobus. The four of us watched a few people jump and after a bit of egging on, we decided we were going to do it. The ladies gracefully declined, but us two guys were now at the point of no return and so we went to the booking office to sign up. We were excited and psyched to be have built up the courage to take the plunge, but were told at the booking office that we would have to wait until 16:00 to be able to jump, the rest of the time slots were booked up. We were told that we should take the slots if we wanted to jump as they fill up really quickly and booking is normally essential. We put our names down and then left nervously to go and get some lunch.
We returned at 15:00 and we then had to fill in the indemnity, get ourselves weighed and then get fitted for our harness. Once we had our harness on, we tentatively sat in the Cliffhanger Pub, where there is a big screen showing a live stream of the jumpers jumping off the bridge. It was incredible to see people stepping up to the edge of the bridge and flying off with such ease, my stomach was in a knot and I wasn’t too sure how I would do. At 15:45 we congregated at the harness area and were introduced to our jump coordinator who ran through some final tips and then we walked along the cage walk under the bridge that took us to the jump zone. Once we were there, the nerves really set in. There were 17 jumpers in our group and the nervous laughter and scared faces were testimony to what we were about to do. The staff on the bridge were amazing, they joked, laughed and played great music that made things feel so relaxed that for a while you weren’t aware that you were going to jump until they called the first jumper. He stood up and walked across to the jump coordinator who started tying more ropes and harnesses onto him and giving him a final briefing, the tension was real. With ankles tied tight together, so tight that he could only hop, the jumper moved into the jump zone. The team then attached the bungy cord, double checked it and then led the jumper to the edge of the bridge. The countdown began and within seconds he disappeared and the jumpers erupted with whooping and clapping as we watched him fall gracefully into the gorge below.
Before long, I was called up to jump. I went through all the tying up and last minute checks, the jump coordinator looked at me and said “have a nice flight” and then took me to the edge of the bridge. To say that fear overcomes you is an understatement, your whole mind and body is screaming at you to get out of there. I looked down and saw the thin ribbon of the river below, I felt the wind on my face and realised that there was NOTHING in front of me, just the magnificent gorge. I heard the countdown in the background and then forced myself forward. There was silence and then a primal scream forced its way out of my body….and the pure exhilaration of freefall bungy jumping. After 2 seconds I was plummeting at 100km per hour towards the river below, the wind in my ears was amazing and the sense of peace was surreal. I felt the cord stretch at the bottom and fling me upwards again, then I went flying back towards to the river for the second time, the recoil is 140m, and down I went….PURE ADRENALIN.
All too soon, it was over, I looked up and saw the guide coming down on a rope to come and fetch me and winch me back up to the top of the bridge. The sense of peace and calm was phenomenal and for a few moments, you feel as is you are so alive and everything is so VIVID, colours seem brighter, silence seems deeper and life seems calmer…I arrived back on the bridge and was welcomed by the other jumpers with handshakes and hugs and I realised that we were all united in a common experience, we had faced our fears, jumped into the abyss and lived to tell the tale. Kobus, who jumped just before me made this comment:
“Some will see it as falling – I see it as cutting into life!” which sums it up beautifully.
It is truly a once in a lifetime experience and here are some stats to whet your appetite:
- It is the worlds highest commercial bungy jump as confirmed by Guiness World Records
- The jump is 216m high, approximately the height of a 70 storey building, the recoil is 140m high, so you get “two jumps” of over 100m
- On the way down, the jumper accelerates from 0 to 100km per hour in 2 seconds, faster than most sports cars
- The jump has a 100% safety record and has been operating since 1997
- The oldest jumper was Mr Mohr Keets who jumped in April 2010 and was 96 years old at the time
So, next time you are in the Garden Route and needing your fix of adrenalin, there is nowhere else to go, it truly was an incredible experience, something that I will never forget….oh and I would jump it again, in a heartbeat….
Booking in peak season is essential, but it might be a good idea to phone ahead at any time of the year to be sure there is space. Below are all the necessary details:
Tel: +27 42 281 1458
Operating Hours: 09:00 – 17:00 daily, open 7 days a week.
Cost per jump: R 690.00
Photos of your jump: R 70.00
DVD video of your jump: R130.00
Merchandise such as T – Shirts, Caps and other clothing is available
GPS co-ordinates: S 33º 57 93’
E 23º 38 88’